Feedgrain Focus: Prices steady as growers go to ground

Liz Wells, April 21, 2022

Sorghum for export is out-turned from on-farm storage near Goondiwindi. Photo: Dave Beare

PRICE moves have been mixed and moderate in the past week as supply-side pressure weighs on the northern market, and demand from bulk and containerised exporters and the domestic sector supports values in the south.

Widespread rain across Victoria and southern New South Wales over the Easter weekend has reduced growers’ interest in selling to a minimum as they concentrate on paddock preparation and the planting of winter crops.

In the north, the sorghum harvest and out-turn to export has resumed in most districts following a reasonably dry week.

Today Apr 14
Barley Downs $370 $365
SFW wheat Downs $402 $405
Sorghum Downs $345 $350
Barley Melbourne $410 $405
ASW wheat Melbourne $415 $408
SFW wheat Melbourne $410 $405

Table 1: Indicative delivered prices in Australian dollars per tonne.

Farmers harvest, sell in north

Many farmers in Queensland and northern NSW are harvesting sorghum, and selling it straight off the header where possible amid bright prospects for a big and timely winter-crop planting.

Smithfield Cattle Company commodity buyer Brett Carsburg said the market is volatile based on location and delivery slot.

“If you want prompt, you might have to pay $5 more,” Mr Carsburg said.

“It’s a combination of transport, execution of contracts, and accessing grain because of the rain that’s been around that’s affecting prices.”

“Markets are trading sideways, but if you want prompt, you’ll have to pay a premium.”

Sites not accessible by road train, or out of the way from preferred loops like Western Downs to Brisbane portside are costing more to book.

“Anything geographically out of the loop, and special configurations where you have to unhook trailers to get in, are costing more.”

While barley prices delivered consumer have firmed on tightened supply, Mr Carsburg said the sorghum and SFW wheat markets feel top-heavy.

“There’s a lot of grain still out on farm that hasn’t been executed.”

Consumers in the north are still buying from growers, and supplementing their needs with loads out of bulk storages.

Some have extended coverage into the third quarter, while others are hopeful that the weight of the big and drawn-out sorghum harvest will prompt a surge in grower selling of SFW wheat as they look to empty on-farm storages.

Southern rain tightens supply

In the week to 9am today, parts of central and southern NSW received ideally timed rain ahead of the Anzac Day, or April 25, opening of the sowing window.

NSW registrations include: Condobolin 15 millimetres; Cootamundra 38mm; Griffith and Temora 34mm; Lake Cargelligo 30mm, and West Wyalong 25mm.

Rain in Victoria was more widespread, with 20-40mm over much of the Mallee and Wimmera, and more in places including Swan Hill with 70mm and Rupanyup with 57mm.

In South Australia, growers from the Murray-Mallee to the Upper North and Yorke Peninsula are still waiting for an  opening rain above single digits, but most Eyre Peninsula growers received a most welcome 10-20mm over Easter.

Melaluka Trading director Mick Fitzgerald said grower selling has dried up after the rain, and buyers for of grain for export and domestic markets are having to buy out of public storages.

“The markets’ still pretty strong,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“It appears that every outlet’s got demand – bulk, domestic and containers.

“There’s significant export demand for our product, and the price is being impacted by the supply chain.”

Most growers in Victoria and southern NSW are either spraying weeds, or sowing canola, dual-purpose cereals or hay crops.

That means they will be on the tractor for the next few weeks.

“The grower is too busy to outturn.”

With four-day weeks across Australia last week, this week and next week, some short covering has helped to lift prices, and rain has delayed some pick-ups and deliveries.

“There’s been fairly significant rain…and one big rain event can have a big impact when the supply chain is so tight.”



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